House Republicans training new members in Orlando
All 81 Republicans in the House are attending a two-day seminar at an Orlando-area resort that members describe as a training session for new members and a team-building exercise for GOP lawmakers. The gathering, which began at noon Monday at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort near Universal Studios, was organized by House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, who took office last week.
The seminar was not noticed to the public or press. It is being paid for by the Republican Party of Florida. Party caucuses are not subject to the open meetings laws, but a similar retreat held in Destin in November 2008 under then-House Speaker Ray Sansom was open.
Rep. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, the House majority leader from Miami, said no policy issues or pending legislation was being discussed, that the seminar continues through meals, and no lobbyists are present. House spokeswoman Katherine Betta said the House shopped around for low hotel room rates and Shingle Creek, at $115 a night, was the best that could be found.
"No golf, no pool, no family members," Betta said in an e-mail. "Working through dinner tonight and breakfast and lunch tomorrow."